Bioluminescence in lanternsharks: Insight from hormone receptor localization

Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2020 Aug 1:294:113488. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2020.113488. Epub 2020 Apr 6.


As part of the study of their bioluminescence, the deep-sea lanternshark Etmopterus spinax and Etmopterus molleri (Chondrichthyes, Etmopteridae) received growing interest over the past ten years. These mesopelagic sharks produce light thanks to a finely tuned hormonal control involving melatonin, adrenocorticotropic hormone and α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone. Receptors of these hormones, respectively the melatonin receptors and the melanocortin receptors, are all members of the G-protein coupled receptor family i.e. coupled with specific G proteins involved in the preliminary steps of their transduction pathways. The present study highlights the specific localization of the hormonal receptors, as well as of their associated G-proteins within the light organs, the so-called photophores, in E. spinax and E. molleri through immunohistofluorescence technic. Our results allow gaining insight into the molecular actors and mechanisms involved in the control of the light emission in Etmopterid sharks.

Keywords: Bioluminescence control; Etmopteridae; GPCR receptor; Immunohistofluorescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / metabolism
  • Animal Structures / metabolism
  • Animals
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Hormones / metabolism*
  • Luminescence*
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Melatonin / metabolism
  • Sharks / metabolism*
  • alpha-MSH / metabolism


  • Hormones
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Melatonin
  • alpha-MSH
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Melatonin